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F-1 Student Employment

While Department of Homeland Security (DHS) regulations provide opportunities for you to be employed during your time in F-1 status, working without authorization is a serious violation of your status. You should therefore consult with the F-1 Advisor in 216 Bradley Hall before beginning any off campus employment. It is your responsibility to comply with all F-1 student immigration regulations. If you fail to comply, you will not be eligible for benefits normally granted to F-1 students.

NOTE: If you do not intend to continue further study in the US, you may not be employed on campus after you have completed a program of study unless you have been granted an Employment Authorization Document by DHS to engage in Optional Practical Training (OPT). This is limited to employment related to your field of study.

When you begin work, you and your employer must complete a form titled "Employment Eligibility Verification" (Form I-9). For University of Kentucky employees, this is done in the Human Resources office in Scovell Hall. The I-9 must be updated each time you renew your work permission or have your I-20 extended.

F-1 students who are employed (including those on assistantships or fellowships) are subject to both Federal and State taxes, unless they are citizens of countries that have special treaties with the US. By virtue of these treaties, some internationals pay taxes at a reduced rate. To receive the benefits of a Tax Treaty, students must file Form 8233 with the Payroll Office, 340 Peterson Service Building. Be sure to take your passport for verification of your status.


Eligibility Requirements
You may work on campus provided you are maintaining F-1 status and you do not work more than a total of 20 hours per week while school is in session. This includes any work undertaken in connection with a scholarship, fellowship or assistantship. You may be employed full time during summer and other vacation periods if you are eligible and intend to register for the subsequent academic term. Enrollment in Summer Sessions I or II does not prohibit full-time on campus work.

Students with full graduate assistantships should contact the Graduate School and their departments regarding policies related to their employment.

Jobs that Qualify as "On-Campus Employment"
On-campus employment includes work done as a teaching or research assistant as well as jobs in the school library, cafeteria, and administrative offices. On-campus also includes employment with "... on-location commercial firms which provide services for students on campus, such as the school bookstore or cafeteria." Exception: On-campus employment does not include employment on the school's premises for a commercial firm that is not providing on-campus services for student; for example, at a construction site for a new school building.

Work Off Campus that Qualifies as On-Campus Employment
Immigration regulations allow you to work at an off-campus location provided:

  • the location is educationally affiliated with UK,
  • the educational affiliation is associated with UK's established curriculum or is related to a graduate level research project which UK has contracted to perform and,
  • the work is an integral or important part of your program of study. For example, if your field of study is agriculture and UK has an off-campus research facility, you may work there and that employment will be defined as "on-campus".

Newly-arrived Students in the US
Students who have entered the US in Initial SEVIS status (as noted in Section 3 of the I-20) to begin a new program, can begin on-campus employment no more than 30 days prior to the first day of classes.

Newly-arrived Transfer Students
Students may engage in on campus employment at UK after their SEVIS record has been released to UK and an I-20 issued.


Optional Practical Training (OPT)
Optional Practical Training is defined in the regulations as "temporary employment for practical training directly related to the student's major area of study." You can use it during or after your studies. There are 12 months of OPT given for each higher degree. (i.e. bachelor's degree to master's degree; master's degree to doctorate). To be eligible, you must have been enrolled for classes for at least one academic year (fall and spring semesters). For FAQ about OPT download the pdf below.

17-Month Optional Practical Training (OPT) Extension 
There is a one-time extension for F-1 students currently participating in a 12-month post-completion period of OPT, working for a U.S. employer in a job directly related to the student’s major area of study. At the time of application for the 17-month extension, the student must have a job offer or be employed by an employer registered with the E-Verify federal employment verification system. This benefit is limited to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) degree holders in the fields specified in the STEM Designated Degree Programs. For FAQ about the STEM extension download the pdf below.

Curricular Practical Training (CPT)
Curricular Practical Training is a paid or unpaid training that must be an integral part of an established curriculum in your course of study. To be eligible, you must have completed one academic year and be enrolled in the appropriate course prior to the beginning of the semester.

Severe Economic Hardship
Students must have completed two semesters in school before they may apply for permission to work off-campus due to severe economic hardship. If permission is granted, employment is limited to 20 hours per week when school is in session and full time during holidays or school vacation